Agriculture Ministry introduces campaign against ‘kaparot’ ritual

Performed between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the kaparot practice typically involves swinging a live chicken over one’s head.

Anti-Kapparot video
In a cartoon video featuring an outspoken rooster fighting for the release of his friends, the Agriculture Ministry has launched a campaign against the traditional kaparot ritual.
Performed between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the kaparot practice typically involves swinging a live chicken over one’s head. As an equally acceptable alternative, the cartoon rooster – and the ministry – ask that members of the public instead partake in financial kaparot, or achieving atonement by donating money to the poor.
“Yom Kippur is a day of atonement and mutual transgressions!” the rooster yells, just as a man is preparing to swing him in the kaparot ritual.
“Therefore, I stand here and say loud and clear, this year we will give kaparot in money and help those in need!” he continues, to resounding applause from chickens stacked behind bars in their cages.
“Halacha [Jewish law] is on our side! Everyone is released! And every chicken will receive a release grant of a private coop in Savyon,” he jokes, referring to a wealthy Tel Aviv suburb.
The video, produced by Srutonim, is part of a larger NIS 750,000 campaign to spread the message around the country, executed by the Government Advertising Agency. The campaign also includes more conservative-style messages that aim to raise awareness among the readers of the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) press, the Agriculture Ministry said.
In publishing the video, the ministry expressed hopes of reaching a younger audience, who would in turn be able to influence the practices of their parents with regard to kaparot.
“For centuries, the custom of kaparot has been part of our tradition on Yom Kippur,” said Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel.
“In recent years, we have been putting in an effort to encourage the public to continue this important custom, yet not through chickens that are transported to slaughter, but instead by donating money. It is right two times – once from the standpoint of preventing cruelty to animals, and again by giving tzedaka to those in need.”
The organization Anonymous for Animal Rights, which has for years been protesting against the kaparot ritual, welcomed the Agriculture Ministry’s effort.
“We hope that this campaign is an important step on the path toward prohibiting this abuse,” read a statement from the group. “More and more Israelis understand that the chicken tortured for kaparot is the same chicken tortured for schnitzel – a chick that has undergone genetic distortion for quick growth, has been held in a stinking and filthy coop, crammed full of growth-catalyzing antibiotics, and at 40 days old, has been loaded violently onto a truck toward slaughter. Particularly on these days of reflection, it is worth pondering about the weak among us and choosing the compassionate path.”